Covers Corner: “Keep On Loving You” by The Lemonheads

I talked about a Lemonheads cover a few years ago. This one is an interpretation of a much sappier song. I enjoy cheesy music as much as the next critic, but I love what The Lemonheads make out of REO Speedwagon. The original version of “Keep On Loving You” is an iconic ballad that’s both tender and urgent. In the hands of Evan Dando, the song is equally urgent, but takes on a rougher, almost sexy quality. You can tell there’s someone on his mind and he doesn’t want anything else but them. There are moments when his voice almost breaks from the passion.

I’ve mentioned this here in the Corner before, but oftentimes with covers, the new artist enunciates the lyrics more clearly. That’s not consistently true with this cover. I don’t mind; it feels more real somehow, which fits with the themes of the song.

In terms of which song I like better, I’m honestly leaning more towards The Lemonheads version! What do you think?

Monthly Obsessions – April 2024

Here we are again. I only had 3 “vintage” songs on the list this month, which is unusual for me. “Ride or Die” was a recommendation from a friend, as was “jesus christ in a mini skirt.” Both of them are incredibly catchy; I had “Ride or Die” on repeat at the beginning of the month, and the Meg Smith song towards the end. She definitely has the Madonna inspo down – derivative without copying.

Speaking of catchy, “Class Historian” is an indie earworm if I ever heard one. I had completely forgotten about it until I went digging through my old radio playlists. If I’m stuck on what to listen to, I like to revisit old playlists and see if I can find gems. It helps me see what holds up and what doesn’t. (Obviously, the Rumours album – another feature this month – always, always will. That album is one of the all-time bestsellers for a reason.)

Monthly Obsessions – March 2024

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? This month was all about revisiting old classics (both from the ’80s and my college years). I listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen (particularly “I’m on Fire” and the live version of “Born in the U.S.A.” I also went back to 1980 with Captain & Tennille and explored easy listening with Air Supply.

(I must’ve been feeling angsty, too, because some other features were The Wall and “Freak Out” by Avril Lavigne.)

College hits were “Daisy Chains” by Youth Group and “Losers” by The Belle Brigade. Another version of this blog from long ago featured an entire entry about “Losers” but then it got away from me. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday.

Album Review: “Glasgow Eyes” by The Jesus and Mary Chain

I would be remiss if I didn’t review Glasgow Eyes by The Jesus and Mary Chain, just given that they’re one of my all-time favorite bands. I’d heard that this album was a slightly different sound than their other work, so I’ve been looking forward to checking it out.

My immediate impression is that, while at its heart you can tell it’s a Mary Chain album, their sound has crystalized. And not in a, “we’ve been doing this for 40 years so fuck off” sort of way, although you get that vibe, too. No, crystalized as in, you can hear the distortion clearly at the same time it blows out your speakers. This album showcases the Mary Chain experimenting with synths and electronics, with a more refined production.

This is particularly obvious on “Venal,” where the synths are immediately obvious without being heavy handed. I liked the line “addicted to love so we can fuck on the table.” It reminded me of the lyric from “April Skies”: “making love on the edge of a knife.” (Guess the band have graduated to something rougher?) The drum beats here are heavy on the bridge, and there’s a faster beat than other Mary Chain songs. But it works. They evolved without making it jarring.

The synths elsewhere are delicate, as on “American Born.” The song features more of a wobbly reverb and a slinky, almost elastic beat. The vocals are distorted (classic Mary Chain), but you can make out their description of what it means to be American. The lyrics remind me of “New York City.”

Other standouts on the album are “Mediterranean X Film” and “Hey Lou Reed.” The first song is unique in that it has spoken word lyrics at the beginning, rather than singing. Its synths are beepy, like in “American Born,” but the vocals are produced really nicely. Meanwhile, “Hey Lou Reed” is a perfect shoutout to the godfather of shoegaze. The vocals here are drowned out by synths, which are in turn drowned out by reverb and heavy drums.

My rating? 4 stars out of 5.

New Music Recs: “Turn the Lights Back On” by Billy Joel

Just finished listening to this song and had to run over here to talk about it! I was (impressed? Surprised?) that Billy Joel doesn’t sound any different vocally. Musically, “Turn the Lights Back On” is so satisfying. I love choruses that settle, if that makes sense: they end on a down note. That feels like closure. Every time that hit in “Turn the Lights Back On,” it was lovely. Thematically, the song reminds me of “One More Time” by blink-182. The music giants of yesteryear are releasing new music (in Billy Joel’s case, for the first time in 17 [!] years) and using it to reflect on the past. But here, Billy Joel doesn’t linger in angst; he never has, really. Instead, he’s clear-eyed: “Stuck in a frame, unable to change/I was wrong.” His reflection is the opportunity to change (“I’m late, but I’m here right now.”) even if it might not be enough (“Did I wait too long/To turn the lights back on?”).

The song didn’t make me tear up like “One More Time” did. But it did make me emotional. Misty-eyed, as my friend and I say. These days, we’re all thinking about the past, and, as usual, music is our escape valve.

Covers Corner: “Keep the Car Running” by Foo Fighters

I’ve been thinking about the line “keep the car running” a lot lately, which prompted me to dust off this entry and post it. I almost think of it as motivation: keep going, keep moving, no matter what. The song itself talks about waking up from dreams. I’ve often tried to figure out the symbolism of the song, but that lyric at least make sense to me.

Arcade Fire has rock roots: you can hear it in the grinding of “Wake Up,” but The Foo Fighters cover of this song, of course, makes it rougher hewn. The drums are very clean, but David Grohl’s punk-rooted voice gives it an edge. If you think about it, even though he’s also singing that “every night my dream’s the same,” his dreams and his city might be different than what’s referenced in the Arcade Fire version. That’s the beauty of music, really: we all bring our own interpretation to songs.

One of my favorite parts of “Keep the Car Running” is the suspension right before the chorus, where there’s a shimmery noise (if you’ve read this blog long enough, you know how much I love shimmering songs) and then the lyrics kick back in. The shimmer is absent from the Foo Fighters version, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This makes the song seem more grounded, despite the atmospheric ennui of the lyrics: “The same place animals go when they die/You can’t climb across a mountain so high/The same city where I go when I sleep/You can’t swim across a river so deep.”

Of the two, I like the Arcade Fire version better; I guess I like shimmer too much! But I definitely appreciate what the Foo Fighters are bringing to the song, and the new angle they tease out.

New Music Recs: “jamcod” by The Jesus and Mary Chain

Well, if any band is going to get me back into blogging, it’s definitely the Mary Chain. I actually didn’t even know that they had released this song until my roommate told me; I joked that I would have to turn in my stan card.

Jokes and self-deprecation aside, listening to the song is like putting on a favorite pair of jeans: they fit perfectly and you know right away that you love them. The song is a searing combination of all the best Mary Chain songs: “Automatic,” “Blues from a Gun,” even some sneaky “Sometimes Always” cameos appear in the guitar riffs. And Jim Reid doesn’t sound like he’s aged at all. His voice, as ever, fits the existential, gazing-from-the-void lyrics that are typical of the Mary Chain: “There must be an answer/To the question I don’t know.” They turn these parts into something familiar, sure, but also thrillingly new. Who knew that they’d hop on the all-lowercase-song-title bandwagon? Not me, that’s for sure. It’s an intriguing preview of their upcoming album Glasgow Eyes.

New Music Recs: “Did I Mention I’m Sorry” by Petey

I reviewed Petey’s album Lean into Life when it came out, and it’s been intermittently on repeat ever since. (Like last month, for example; I’ll get to my Monthly Obsessions soon.) His latest single, “Did I Mention I’m Sorry” came on a mix and so I thought I’d review it here.

To be honest, I almost didn’t recognize the song as a Petey song. It’s slower and quieter than much of Lean, yet in an interesting contrast, Petey himself sings faster and breathier. On Lean, his voice is a loud yelp that’s incredibly earnest without being harsh. The chorus of “Sorry” features a ghost of that yelp, which is when I finally recognized it as a Petey single. You hear his same earnestness here; it’s even in the song title.

Petey covers themes of nostalgia (“More to Life Than Baseball”) and confronting the past (“Don’t Tell the Boys”) mixed with the mundane elements of life (“Apple TV Remote”). “Sorry” is mostly about the past and addressing a bygone relationship. He so expertly walks the line between wanting to say sorry and deflecting it as sarcasm. His vulnerability is one of the reasons why I love his music.

Monthly Obsessions – September 2023

Jennifer Warnes was the new discovery for this month. I love her dismissal of common love tropes and her earnestness about being herself, no matter what. This is obviously most present on “Don’t Make Me Over,” but it also appears on “I Know a Heartache When I See One,” which is one of the most self-aware songs I’ve heard in a minute. Swamp pop reappeared this month – always and forever a favorite; I’m grateful that I discovered it. Sometimes songs and genres appear in your life and feel right. Speaking of always and forever favorites, I “rediscovered” The Replacements this month. The ‘Mats are usually in the background somewhere – I listen to them off and on regularly – but for whatever reason, I dove back in this month. “Little Mascara” was the standout of theirs that I listened to this month. It’s a more obscure cut, and you know me: I always go for the obscure. I found a music blog that discusses The ‘Mats, which is rare. That made me happy, obviously, to find like-minded souls out there, but I also had to laugh because they kept saying that X song was the best one Paul Westerberg had ever written. And then another blog post would allege that no, Y song was the best one he’d ever written. It proves that The Replacements have an extensive catalogue of hits beyond “Can’t Hardly Wait.”

New Music Recs: “One More Time” by blink-182

Not kidding when I say I ran over here as soon as I heard this song! I’ve talked about Tom’s voice before, and now that it’s changed, it suits the age and melancholy of this song in a better way. You hear the slight emo of their earlier songs with the line, “I miss you,” but overall, “One More Time” strikes me as a song about growing up and not wanting to move on. “Do I have to die to hear you miss me?/Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?/I don’t want to act like there’s tomorrow/I don’t want to wait to do this one more time.”

The slow acoustic of the song is also quite beautiful. And I love how “One More Time” ends with an echoing church bell. That’s unique and feels perfectly final.